WATCH: Senseless Beating of Truck Driver in Detroit Urges a Dialogue Not Between Blacks and Whites but Between Blacks and Blacks


Rochelle Riley  Detroit Free Press Columnist
Rochelle Riley
Detroit Free Press Columnist

It was a brutal assault that instantly separated us: good people versus bad, people who care versus people who can’t.

Steve Utash, a white, mild-mannered tree-trimmer, was driving on a street he’d been using for 17 years, his son said, when a boy stepped out in front of his truck and bounced off the fender.

Utash, a father and grandfather, did what any good person would: He got out to check on the child. And a mob of nearly a dozen people, all presumed black, raced over, beat him up and robbed his truck .

The attack didn’t pit white people against black people. Outrage came from people of different colors, different communities, different generations. Good people became joined in heartbreak.

■ Related: Rochelle Riley on driver’s beating: Keep your hate, violence out of our city

■ Related: Fund-raiser aims to raise $50,000 for driver beaten after accident

It was clear in the messages left on a website set up to pay Utash’s medical bills (which had raised nearly $80,000 as of Saturday night):

Prayers going up. Dear Lord please bless this man and his family. — Walteretta Collins

This was a senseless act committed by senseless people, I wish him a full recovery and I hope each and everyone involved in this crime is caught and convicted! — Raymond Nobles

It was clear in a Facebook post on Friday:

Every time I see anything at all about this story, it makes me angry and sick. Just think: Some fool knows who these fools are and hasn’t turned them in yet. The city needs an exorcism … — Jerry Carr

All those posts were from African Americans, part of a collective saddened by the attack.

“To be honest, my heart was broken,” said Shirley Corder, a 60-year-old marketing company owner and retired media advertising specialist. “I feel for the kid and his family, but I really feel for the man and his family as well. I think that a lot of us have been praying for the restoration of our city, but this is not the way we’re going to be healed.

“There have been too many hit-and-runs lately, so when an honest person stops to help, we can’t accept this kind of tragedy,” said Corder, who is African American, grew up in Detroit and has two daughters, 17 and 25.

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Source: Detroit Free Press | Rochelle Riley

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